Kristallnacht – known as the Night of Broken Glass – was an event perpetrated by the Nazi regime as a retaliatory measure against Jewish peoples for the assassination of Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Feibel Grynszpan.

This atrocity saw the destruction of Jewish property, ranging from apartments to synagogues. Glass was spread throughout the streets of the Nazi regime as shop windows were smashed by the perpetrators. The atrocity began in the late hours of November 9th, 1938 and continued into November 10th, 1938. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,

The rioters destroyed hundreds of synagogues, many of them burned in full view of firefighters and the German public and looted more than 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses and other commercial establishments. Jewish cemeteries became a particular object of desecration in many regions. Almost 100 Jewish residents in Germany lost their lives in the violence. being destroyed.

As fires raged across the Nazi regime, Jewish people suffered egregiously for an event they had no control over.

Tens of thousands of Jewish men were taken from their homes and arrested by the Nazi regime. Those who were arrested were generally sent to concentration camps and released later on. The magnitude of this action against Jewish people is regarded as the start of the Holocaust by many scholars, and the night was certainly a warning of what was to come.

Many rumors and theories exist surrounding Kristallnacht, its start, and the perpetrators, but ultimately Joseph Goebbels’ propaganda helped provoke the Nazi regime into action.[2]

Jewish women were forced to clean up the glass the next day.

Herschel Feibel Grynszpan

Herschel Feibel Grynszpan

Born on March 28, 1921 – Death in absentia declared on June 1, 1960
Born in Hanover, Weimar Republic (Germany)
Polish-Jewish descent
Assassinated Ernst vom Rath

Ernst vom Rath

Born on June 3, 1909 and died on November 9, 1938
Born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Died in Paris, France
Rank: German Diplomat
Assassinated by Herschel Feibel Grynszpan


[1] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Kristallnacht.[2] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The “Night of Broken Glass.”